Viola Davis, ‘The Woman King’ Cast Show Intense Film Training

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

We’re probably all aware that a lot of work goes into bringing fictional movie characters to life. We don’t always know how many, but the cast of the upcoming action drama The female king just informed us. In the recently released vignette, “Train Like a Warrior,” the cast, which includes Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and Adrienne Warren, spoke about the transformation needed to fulfill their roles.

“My body went through hell,” Davis said in the video. The other cast members added that it was intense and they weren’t sure they could survive the process. The ladies practiced three hours of martial arts a day and trained in weapons such as swordplay, spears and the use of machetes. It didn’t stop there. They also engaged in physical activities like “a lot of punching,” an hour and a half of weight lifting, and sprints.

Gabriela Mclain was the actors’ trainer and nutritionist behind the magic, helping them get in shape and gain the skills required for their roles. She spoke with PEOPLE about the workout plan she came up with.

“My goal was to make it look pretty natural, just like the woman would look if she had to go into a fight because it’s based on true stories. I try to stay authentic, even with the body,” she said. “There are all kinds of enhancers you can take to get lean and ripped and all that but I didn’t want them to look like Miss Olympia, I tried to keep it authentic so they looked like warriors .”

Mclain took a personalized approach to the workout and nutrition plans she provided to ensure optimal results.

“Before I started, I actually did DNA testing on the top five that were signed under me, namely Viola, Thuso, Lashana, Sheila and Adrienne. I did the DNA tests on all of them which helped me figure out the best way to train, the best way to protect their muscles and protect their bodies because they are all different,” she said. “There is no single plan. Everyone should train in a different way.

Women can attest to the effectiveness of this approach and are pleased with how it stretched them mentally and physically, grateful to director Gina Prince-Bythewood for the opportunity.

“She transformed our bodies, she also transformed our minds,” Atim said in the vignette.

“I mean, I feel like a badass,” Davis added.

The Woman King is based on the story of the Agojie, an all-female warrior group who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. The film will be released in theaters on September 16. Check out the ladies in action!

The article continues after the video.

TOPICS: Fitness Health and Wellness Viola Davis

Kristen T. Prall